I actually think I have exceptionally good karma lately, despite the last few days of work-related headaches. So this post is not to bemoan that I may not be living right to have such awkward occurrences happen.
Anyone who knows me in real life or anywhere else knows I love, Love, LOVE my kids to the moon and stars and back. They can be my age and they will still be my children and have large holdings of my heart’s real estate. Despite that, I have never been a helicopter parent. I want very much for them to be happy, but it is not now nor has it ever really been my role to make them happy. Teach them ways to get along in the world and how to explore and find their own happy, maybe. But being their mom does not mean I was there to solve all their problems when they were little, and definitely not now that they are adults.
Imagine my surprise and concern when the mother of the girl I am mentoring called this morning. Because we had passed in the breakroom earlier when I was just arriving and she was on her way out with one of the bosses I knew she was fine, but I thought perhaps there was a family emergency of a sort that required we track her down and interrupt the meeting she was attending. I picked up the phone mentally prepared to hear bad or alarming news. Never did I imagine what was actually said.
The mom was calling to discuss her daughter’s recent job performance issues and to let me know that my mentee is a very smart, very sensitive girl who needs to be handled carefully and thoughtfully. As a parent, she knows it is unusual, but apparently the mom and dad still have quite a bit of influence and were just sure, if they knew the extent of the performance issues, they could help her get up to speed and overcome them.
I thought I was being pranked by one of the staff at first, but these are attorneys, the staffer in question is quite sensitive and prickly-pearish, and no way would the boss do this to me. As the woman droned on I realized I was actually speaking to a 28-year-old woman’s mother who was inserting herself into her daughter’s professional work life. Absolutely unreal. And for goodness sakes – WHY ME?
When it was finally my turn to talk, I told her in no uncertain terms that I could not, would not discuss any employee’s status or performance with anyone outside the firm and her inquiry was completely inappropriate. I said it nicely, professionally, but really firmly, and her reply was “but I’m her mother” as if I were a teacher and we were discussing her minor child. I repeated myself, suggested she discuss her daughter’s issues with her daughter, and finally pleaded meeting tardiness to get off the telephone.
I do not think my associate has any idea that her mom called or was planning to call, and I think I am not going to mention it to her unless she brings it up. It’s horrifying enough for me to think about as both a mother and a daughter, and I certainly do not want to add to her stress by remarking upon it.
Having read stories about extreme helicopter parents I sort of knew it happens, but this is the first – and hopefully only – time it has ever happened to me. I think I handled it correctly, but it’s new and I am second guessing myself. But I know if I ever did that to either of my kids they would disown me and as C said she would see about having me committed to an lockdown Alzheimer’s facility because, clearly, I would have lost my mind.
I feel really awful for my associate. If she knew her mom’s intentions, how sad that she is still so immature and not ready to be living in the chronologically adult world. (But I truly do not believe that is the case here.) Because I believe she had no idea what her mother would do with the information about her professional struggle right now, I imagine she would be horribly embarrassed about her mom’s behavior. I am mortified enough for both of us.
Ugh. I should be thinking Thursday training recap and the happy re-signing for more training with J. Instead I cannot get this phone call out of my head. Poor associate; our brief interaction this morning was quite pleasant, too.